The US Air Force’s (USAF) advanced extremely high-frequency (AEHF) system has successfully completed a multiservice operational test and evaluation programme at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, US.
The six-month programme was conducted by the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Detachment 4 (AFOTEC Det 4) and the 4th Space Operations Squadron (4th SOPS), the six-month programme was aimed at ensuring that the AEHF system performed its missions the way it was designed.
The Lockheed Martin -built AEHF system provides survivable, global, secure, protected, and jam-resistant communications for military ground, sea and, air assets.
Specifically, the trials validated the system’s advanced ground mobile unit, andits integration to the legacy Milstar constellation. They also confirmed the system’s communication capability for end-users and proved its ability to operate in a nuclear environment.
To help validate AEHF’s advanced ground mobile unit, the 4th SOPS personnel operated the satellite constellation from the mobile systems instead of from the squadron’s normal control centre in the integrated operations environment (IOE).
4th SOPS director of operations lieutenant colonel Zachary Owen said: "If for some reason, we need to go out and operate the satellites because we can’t do it here at Schriever because of a threat, a war or any incident, then we go operate out of our mobile units.
"The piece of this testing was to make sure we can operate out of those mobile units for an extended period of time."
Testing was also required to ensure the satellites’ unique capability of operating autonomously during its transition period from IOE operations into the mobile units.
The trails also evaluated the ability of AEHF satellites and their command and control systems to integrate with legacy Milstar constellation, apart from confirming the network’s security architecture, and the procedures in place to ensure protection against insider and outsider threats.
The system underwent two more tests to ensure that it can provide protected communication, even during a nuclear environment, and to confirm its ability to provide communication capability to end users, which include the air force, army, navy, marines and international partners.
The AFOTEC will now analyse the data collected from the test to determine if the AEHF system is performing its mission vital to national security.
Owen said: "Once AFOTEC is done with the report, the Air Force Space Command leadership will decide whether the AEHF system has reached initial operation capability."
Image: An artistic impression of advanced extremely high-frequency satellite in Orbit. Photo: courtesy photo / Space and Missile Systems Center.